The “BallotReady Block Party” will be held on the Student Union terrace at the University of Connecticut on Oct. 26 in an effort to encourage students to get involved in the election process and register to vote, said organizer Jessica Gagnon.
The event, which will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., is being hosted by UConnPIRG. Student groups such as Undergraduate Student Government and WHUS Radio will also be participating at the event at different booths, Gagnon said.
“The activities will be related to voting as well as what each organization does and cares about,” Gagnon said.
Gagnon, a psychology and human development and family studies double major, said each organization that participates will have its own interactive activity at its respective booth that is related to voting and the election process.
In preparation for the event, Gagnon said UConnPIRG is also working with the company BallotReady, a website that gives voters easy access to information about candidates and their platforms in order to streamline the decision-making process. The company operates nationwide, so students who are not voting in Mansfield elections can still get information on candidates from their hometown or state.
“They [students] can get a candidate’s background, what they support, who they’re endorsed by,” Gagnon said. “So it helps them [students] make a decision for themselves based on what matters to them, their values and their identities.”
BallotReady will be assisting students at the event with making their own voter guides, which students can then take to the polls with them on Election Day.
“It [voter guides] removes any kind of anxiety about getting there and not knowing who they’re going to vote for or what’s going to happen,” Gagnon said. “We want everyone to leave this event feeling really excited and prepared to go to the polls on Election Day.”
Gagnon said it is important to try to figure out why the 18-29 age group has such low voter turnout in order to reverse the trend. Only around 40 percent of the age group voted in the 2016 elections, according to the United States Elections Project.
“We’re the largest and most diverse voting bloc in the country, and yet we turn up to the polls the least,” Gagnon said. “Whether that’s because we don’t see it as something that’s fun and exciting, it can seem kind of like a chore.”
Gagnon said the solution is to create more positive associations with the voting atmosphere.
“We want to make sure people have this positive, excited idea about voting,” Gagnon said. “So that every two years it’s not something that you think you have to do, it’s something that you look forward to and get excited for. It’s a way to use your voice and make a change.”
Gagnon said voting is important because it allows students to elect politicians who will want to satisfy their demands in order to stay in office.
“If we as students show that we are involved and that we are going to be deciding the future, then we are going to have politicians support things like open education resources on campus, which is something that UConnPIRG works a lot with,” Gagnon said.
Gagnon said the event will allow for UConnPIRG to make a more extensive push toward other reforms on campus that can’t be made without proper legislation, such as free textbooks.
“We can’t do it if we don’t show politicians that it’s important to support students and what students want,” Gagnon said.
Taylor Harton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at email@example.com.